ScienceDaily (May 10, 2012) — Brittle stars and people have something in common: They move in fundamentally similar ways. Though not bilaterally symmetrical like humans and many other animals, brittle stars have come up with a mechanism to choose any of its five limbs to direct its movement on the seabed. It’s as if each arm can be the creature’s front, capable of locomotion and charting direction. Results appear in the Journal of Experimental Biology.It
It appears that the brittle star, the humble, five-limbed dragnet of the seabed, moves very similarly to us.
In a series of first-time experiments, Brown University evolutionary biologist Henry Astley discovered that brittle stars, despite having no brain, move in a very coordinated fashion, choosing a central arm to chart direction and then designating other limbs to propel it along. Yet when the brittle star wants to change direction, it designates a new front, meaning that it chooses a new center arm and two other limbs to move. Brittle stars have come up with a mechanism to choose any of its five limbs to be central control, each capable of determining direction or pitching in to help it move.